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Hello, I'm Michael Hecht
from Princeton University.
And today, I'm going to discuss
with Life Sustaining Activities.
I'd liked to start this presentation
with a quote
from the chemist Albert Eschenmoser
who said that, "The origin of life
cannot be discovered,
it has to be re-invented."
And what Eschenmoser was saying here
is that it's difficult,
perhaps impossible, to go back in time
how life originated on earth.
So as an alternative to that,
we can think about the origin of life
in an experimental way,
we can think about reinventing life.
And so today's talk
is going to talk about life reinvented.
So this slide here shows
a schematic of what we might consider
the essentials of life.
I've put three boxes here on the slide
to highlight that in order to have
a living system,
three things are essential.
First, we need molecular machinery.
Molecules that do stuff,
that do the structural
and functional tasks
that are necessary to maintain life.
Then of course, these molecular machines
have to be encoded in some way
that is heritable and passed on
to the next generation.
And finally, of course,
one needs a boundary,
something that separates
the living system from the surroundings.
In living systems as we know them,
the molecular machinery
is typically made up of proteins.
And all the proteins
in the living system
is described as the proteome.
That protein machinery
is encoded in DNA, genes,
and all the genes in living system
is the genome of that living system.
And finally, boundaries are typically
the membrane, cell walls, or skins
that separate the living system
from its surroundings.
The arrows shown here indicate
that we should consider each of these
three things as interconnected,
molecular machinery, proteins
are involved in synthesizing DNA,
DNA codes for proteins,
all of these things are encapsulated
by the boundary.
So as we move forward
with the idea of life reinvented.
Today, we're going to focus primarily
on the molecular machinery.
We're going to think about
whether it is possible to devise
novel molecular machines,
novel proteins that can perform
the essential tasks necessary for life.
And if we can do that,
the other two boxes
will come along for the ride.
In other words,
if we can devise novel proteins
with life-sustaining capabilities,
then it's pretty straightforward
to make synthetic genes and genomes
that will encode them.
And then we'll leave it
for somebody else
to think about the idea of boundaries,
cell walls, and membranes.
Okay, so we're going to think
about making novel proteins
and so many novel proteins perhaps
that we can think of them
as comprising an artificial proteome
that might be sufficient
to sustain life reinvented.